Muhammad Idrees Ahmad writes: “Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster,” warned Nietzsche. “For when you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”
Russian tanks rolling into Hama, its air force bombing Idlib, its missiles flying from the Caspian, its fighter jets violating Turkish airspace – all of it backed by the familiar language of the “war on terror” – is the abyss staring back at an America that, in search of monsters to destroy, has helped legitimise monstrous deeds.
Vladimir Putin can face little resistance if he bombs an ambulance in Idlib when a US gunship incinerates a hospital in Kunduz. Bashar Al Assad can get away with murder because he has conveniently pronounced his opponents “terrorists”.
As long as the US carries the dead weight of the war on terror, it will have neither the agility to respond to crises nor the moral authority to restrain its wayward – or inadvertent – allies. When Mr Putin volunteered his forces to join a war on terror in Syria, Mr Obama had little choice but to assent. Russia, unlike the US, however has targeted mainly anti-Assad forces, some of them said to be US-backed. But Washington’s feeble complaints ring hollow when the US has itself set the precedent in targeting anti-ISIL groups.[Continue reading…]